b'WESTERN MARBLE ARCH SYNAGOGUESHEMINI ATZERET AND KOHELET HOWARD MORRISO ne of the features of Succot is that we read Kohelet, the beautiful book composed by king Solomon and to be honest, it can be seen as a bit of a downer. Weve got through the tough festival, Yom Kippur, faced our flaws and sought forgiveness and then were enjoying Succot, glorying in the success of the annual harvest, spending time in our succahs and visiting others - life is good. And then we turn to Kohelet. Now, its beautiful. Its language has become some of the most famous biblical prose in all the languages to whichitistranslated.Andatfirstreading-actuallyatmany subsequent readingsone might think that Kohelet is just about the futility of all we do, all we achieve in the world. Is that really so?The other thing about Kohelet is that when Shemini Atzeret falls on Shabbat, thats the time its read. Why?Starting with the second question first; Shemini Atzeret is the eighth day. It immediately follows Succot and it is the Day of Assembly. Rabbi Samson Hirsch, who lived in the nineteenth century, figured the festivals meaning as to gather or store up. Its a day to tarry, to hang on and stay in a spiritual mood and importantly to reflect, perhaps, to draw together the lessons from Succot and the other festivals during this crowded period of the calendar. It definitely is no longer Succot, theres no lulav or etrog waving, but we carry on for a day.ItsimportantthathavingenjoyedSuccot,beingpleasedwith ourselvesthatthematerialwork,inanagriculturalsocietyof harvest, but equally applicable in our modern society, is done. Having addressed our relationship with Hashem and our fellows over Rosh Hashana and Yom Kippur, we take a day to gather ourselves for the year ahead.Thats where Kohelet comes in and why its so right to read it on Shabbat and Shemini Atzeret when it falls on Shabbat. Theres always a danger with Shabbat. Because it comes each week, we forget its fundamental importance, its spirituality and power and its crucial significance in our relationship with Hashem. 24'